Voters’ voice: Public opinion split evenly for and against party-based elections

Published: December 22, 2015
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LAHORE: 

Public opinion on party-based elections is split almost evenly between those who prefer party-based elections (49.5 per cent) and those who want non-party based elections (50.5 per cent) to the metropolitan corporation.

Interviews have been conducted with a sample of 111 voters in four NA constituencies of the city prior to the first phase of the local government elections in the province. The areas covered by the surveyors include the Walled City and its some neighbourhoods in the vicinity.

Reasons for preferring non-party elections

The most frequently cited reason for preferring election on a non-party basis is that party tickets tend to go to a select-few and not everyone can get them (36 per cent of those who prefer non-party based election). The respondents say an election on non-party basis may provide everyone an opportunity to contest elections.

Among respondents who prefer non-party elections, concerns about allotment of tickets is followed by personal experience of knowing candidates who have a track record of philanthropy and getting things done for others (17 per cent). Other responses are dislike of major parties because of past experience.

Reasons for preferring party-based elections

Among the other half, that prefer party based election, a third say they do so because of the institutional impact of political parties in nurturing electoral democracy in the country (33 percent of those who prefer party based election). The respondents specifically mention screening of candidates by political parties, development of political programmes and manifestos at the party level and enforcement of party discipline as beneficial aspects of a party-based election.

Other frequently cited reasons are i) political parties promote responsible political behaviour and can hold the candidates caught indulging in corrupt practices accountable or be liable for such practices (12 per cent of those who prefer party based elections), and ii) individual candidates cannot achieve a lot on their own and need the institutional power of parties to get funds and approve development projects for their areas (11 per cent).

Together, those who cite support for a particular party or its ideology are 22 per cent in those who prefer party-based elections.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2015.

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